South Carolina will once again have to bounce back from a loss to open the weekend to keep its season alive.
Oklahoma State defeated USC 5-1 Saturday afternoon to move within a win of advancing to the College World Series.
The Gamecocks will need to beat the Cowboys on Sunday and again Monday to reach Omaha after Cowboys starter Thomas Hatch and closer Trey Cobb shut down USC’s offense for most of Game 1.
“Hatch and Cobb, they were lights out. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap to your opponent. That’s what we’re going to do today,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “The series isn’t over. Our season isn’t over… We get to play at Founders Park for two games with a chance to go to the College World Series. Sign me up.”
Gamecocks starter Braden Webb pitched well for 7 2/3 innings, allowing two runs, with one earned, but got no help from his offense.
Hatch scattered four hits over seven innings, and USC didn’t get on the board until Dom Thompson-Williams hit an opposite-field homer to open the ninth inning off Cobb.
The Gamecocks finished with six hits, but stranded seven runners, batting 3-for-16 with runners on base and 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
“He stayed away and kept it low and got out of big jams,” Thompson-Williams said. “He threw huge pitches in certain situations. You’ve got to do that against a team like us and he did it.”
Oklahoma State took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a Ryan Sluder solo homer and added a run later in the inning after a hit batter, passed ball and Corey Hassel RBI single.
USC was within striking distance, trailing 2-0 in the ninth inning, until Collin Theroux hit a three-run homer off Taylor Widener. Theroux entered Saturday’s game hitting .161, but went 2-for-4.
“Home runs are huge when there are people on base, and we saw that tonight,” Thompson-Williams said.
South Carolina finished with six hits, but no one had more than one. Gene Cone, DC Arendas and Alex Destino each reached base twice, with Cone and Arendas going 1-for-3 with a walk and Destino walking twice.
The bottom of the order carried the Cowboys with the 5-9 hitters going 7-for-16 with four runs scored and four RBIs.
Star of the game: Hatch: The Cowboys starter said he didn’t have his best stuff, but was good enough to shut down the Gamecocks. He battled the heat and fans to pitch seven shutout innings. Hatch had only three strikeouts, but kept USC from making solid contact.
Play of the game: USC had runners on first and second with two outs in the fourth inning when Jonah Bride singled off shortstop Donnie Walton into shallow centerfield. USC third base coach Sammy Esposito sent Gene Cone home on the play, but the throw from second baseman J.R. Davis reached the plate well before Cone. USC would have had the bases loaded with two outs had Esposito not sent Cone home.
Stat of the game: 5: South Carolina got the leadoff man on in five of the nine innings, but scored only one run on a solo homer.
Bring back Jones? He singled in the ninth inning after doubling off the wall in his previous at-bat against UNCW. Holbrook opted to ride the hot hand with Hunter Taylor at catcher, but he went 0-for-3 at the plate and allowed a passed ball.
Fans battled the heat: Nearly 8,000 fans were on hand for the game with temperatures in the 90s. A couple of OSU players said after the game that the crowd got to them at times.
Umpiring made it tough: Webb and Hatch were both throwing well, and home plate umpire Rick Scarbery made it even tougher on the hitters. The strike zone changed throughout the game.
What: South Carolina vs. Oklahoma State
When: 3 p.m., Sunday
Where: Founders Park
Probable pitchers: USC – Clarke Schmidt (So. RHP); OSU – Tyler Buffett (Jr. RHP)
Radio: 107.5 FM